For those outside the beltway, there was likely little attention paid to the “firestorm” around President Obama’s Co-Chairman of his Bipartisan Debt Commission, former Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY). Simpson, in a letter responding to a disgruntled citizen, allegedly offended both women and Social Security recipients by concluding his response with some salty language. Simpson later issued an apology letter to the complainant.
I should first state, for the record, that I am the furthest thing from a misogynist or an ageist. I am, however, a big Alan Simpson fan. (As is, incidentally, almost every Senator — Democrat or Republican — who served with him.) Simpson is well known for his dry sense of humor and his razor wit. Simpson once quipped that “all politics is like lightning hitting the outhouse.” Perhaps the port-o-john lobby should whip itself into a media frenzy — as have most feminist groups now posturing for their 15 minutes.
Calls for Simpson to resign are preposterous and unnecessary. Should he have used the specific language? Probably not. He is, however, an 80-year-old man from a rural state and was clearly referring to farm animals and not to female humans. (Incidentally, Abraham Lincoln, when informed by one of his advisors that he appeared “exhausted” immediately after his inauguration, responded, “there’s too many pigs for the tits” — insinuating that many of the people who helped him win election were now coming to collect their chits.)
Might as well tear down the Lincoln Memorial now, too.
Simpson deserves credit for taking on an almost impossible task. Social Security has long been dubbed the “third rail” of American politics, and for the debt commission’s members to take every idea into account (including Social Security reform) indicates that they are prepared to put their money where their mouth is.
Critics should focus on that willingness and the substance the report produces, not on Simpson’s mouth.
Cameron Lynch is a former aide to three Republican Senators and president of The Lynch Group, LLC, a Republican government affairs and political consulting firm.